5 players who will break out with new teams in 2021-22 NBA season
The 2021 offseason saw a lot of player movement around the NBA. The landscape of the league has changed quite a bit with some big names and key free agents taking their talents elsewhere. Some players definitely elevated their new teams to contender status with their respective arrivals, while others gave newfound hope to teams looking to make the playoffs. Other players, meanwhile, just need a change of scenery in order to advance their respective careers. With that, here are five players who will break out with their new teams in the 2021-22 NBA season.
1. Kyle Kuzma
Kyle Kuzma’s tenure as a Laker finally ended this offseason after Los Angeles traded the streaky forward to the Washington Wizards in the deal that sent Russell Westbrook to the Purple and Gold.
Laker Nation has had a love-hate relationship with the 26-year old over the last couple of years, mainly due to their expectations of him. Many Lakers fans envisioned Kuzma to emerge as the third piece of the Lakers Big Three alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. However, the 6-foot-10 stretch four struggled with inconsistency after Davis arrived, mainly due to having a new and lesser role.
His reputation has definitely taken a hit after a couple of subpar NBA seasons in his third and fourth year. But many forget that Kuzma made the All-Rookie First Team in his debut season and averaged 18.7 points as a sophomore for the Lakers. With a bigger role and a less bright spotlight in Washington, Kuzma could return to the promising trajectory he had going through his first two years in the NBA.
2. Lonzo Ball
Lonzo Ball will play with his third team in five seasons after he signed a 4-year, $85 million deal with the Chicago Bulls this past summer.
So far, Ball hasn’t quite lived up to the billing of being the no. 2 overall pick of his class. Selected by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2017 NBA Draft, many expected Zo to become the point guard of the future for the storied Purple and Gold franchise. However, he didn’t play up to the very high standards that Lakers fans and the front office expected of him. In the end, Ball became part of the package that sent Anthony Davis to Los Angeles.
Ball looked poised to have a fresh start with the Pelicans. However, it seems like he wasn’t quite pleased with his situation with the Pels and looked elsewhere to further elevate his game. While Ball did show tremendous strides as a player, especially with his shooting, in his two years in New Orleans, the Pelicans weren’t showing much signs of improvement as a team that could actually contend in the NBA.
With the Bulls building a playoff-caliber core after acquiring All-Star center Nikola Vucevic last season and signing DeMar DeRozan this summer, Ball can finally get the chance to play for a winning situation.
3. Spencer Dinwiddie
The second Wizard on this list, Spencer Dinwiddie signed a 3-year, $54 million contract to go to Washington.
Dinwiddie could see a breakout campaign playing as the unquestioned starting point guard for Washington. Dinwiddie has shown what he is capable of in his tenure with the Nets. However, he hasn’t quite had a consistent role, shifting as a starter and a reserve in his seasons in Brooklyn and his workload only decreased when Kyrie Irving arrived.
Dinwiddie is coming off a partially torn ACL that forced him to miss all but three games of the 2020-21 NBA season. Nonetheless, with nobody else in front of him on the rotation, the 28-year old seems hungry to prove he is prime for a bigger role as the lead guard of an NBA team. Averaging 20.6 points the year before, Dinwiddie along with Bradley Beal could be one of the more fearsome scoring backcourts in the Eastern Conference.
4. Kelly Oubre Jr.
After a rather tumultuous one-year run with the Golden State Warriors, Kelly Oubre Jr. made his way to the Charlotte Hornets on a 2-year, $24.6 million deal. The 6-foot-7 wing reportedly wanted to get a deal within the range of $15 million to $20 million, but the market dried up on him. He ended up becoming one of the later signings in NBA free agency and took less money than he expected.
Still, Oubre also wanted to get a larger role with his new squad and he should get his wish with the Hornets. Charlotte is a young, up-and-coming team in the East, looking to prove they can take the next step, which is making the postseason. In many ways, Oubre is the same with how he wants to prove his worth as a promising, explosive, young wing in the NBA.
As mentioned, Oubre struggled in his lone campaign with the Warriors. He had his fair share of highs, but also experienced the lowest of lows, especially when he infamously 7-of-51 (or 13.7 percent) from three through his first 10 games in the Bay Area. Perhaps his inconsistency and his historically bad shooting start to last season brought down his value a bit. Nonetheless, with more motivation to perform and prove himself, he could be poised a breakout with the Hornets in 2021-22.
5. Ben Simmons
Just kidding. Ben Simmons is very much still a member of the Philadelphia 76ers.
But yeah, with all the reports and drama surrounding him and the Sixers, it doesn’t seem likely he starts the 2021-22 NBA campaign in Philly. And even if he does, he’ll probably get traded midway through the season anyway.
In terms of breaking out, Simmons, as the dynamic and talented player that he is, should thrive in any situation he gets to and provide a positive impact to whatever new team that lands him.